Today’s Bad Idea: Three 1970’s Lotus orphans

Most Lotus purists bemoan the early 1990’s Elan model as a travesty, unworthy of the Lotus namesake. I think that’s a little harsh; while they are the only front-wheel-drive Lotus ever made, they were still excellent handling little roadsters with neat styling, a robust and sprightly Isuzu turbo drivetrain and a bit of obscurity thrown in for good measure. Sure, they couldn’t match the revered Esprit supercar, but then again they weren’t supposed to. What really puzzles me is that the modern Elan is so derided, yet the 1970’s Elite and Eclat get a free pass! These hideous monstrosities are probably the worst vehicles Lotus ever churned out, as evidenced by the fact that three of them are for sale here on Craigslist for $1500 each.

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These forgotten relics made do with a 160 horsepower engine in the largest body Lotus had ever put together, offering performance that wasn’t exactly Earth-shattering. The styling isn’t much to write home about either, but I’ll withhold my judgment, as pretty much everything was ugly in the 1970’s. Also a product of the era was their abysmal build quality; the English were never known for their skills in screwing vehicles together, but these were among the worst. Lotus had the bright idea of separating the cars’ steel chassis from their fiberglass bodies with a strip of felt…you might see where this is going. The felt would collect water rather quickly, and the cars would then dangerously rust from the inside out! Frame replacement isn’t very cost effective on unloved models like these, so many languish in wrecking yards with intact fiberglass bodies resting on vaporized chassis components, serving as monuments of failure for one of the greatest sports car makers in the history of automobiles.

I like a lot of weird cars for no other reason than their inherent weirdness, but these Elites/Eclats have never appealed to me. The styling is dated without being endearing, lots of parts are virtually impossible to come by, and they don’t seem to be much fun to drive. Worst of all, even a mint condition one in perfect driving condition could easily be mistaken for a 1970’s VW-based kit car; they have neither the simple joy of earler Lotus offerings like the Elan nor the panache of later models like the Esprit. If you’re a fan, though, $4800 will get you three of them and a parts car. Original text below:

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1. Black ext, may need clutch $1500
2.0 liter Lotus 907 4 valve engine, 160HP. 5 speed trans. A/C, Power Steering.
California title, non-opt.
Previous owner was driving car and commuting 150 miles a day. Told me it started to have a clutch issue and they parked it. has bee sitting for 18+ years. Had it running but didn’t want to chance timing belt braking. At mechanics now getting timing belt and tentioner, fuel lines flushed and oil and filter changed.
Interior pics are of black car.
Price is firm at $1500. Price will be going up when mechanical work is done and Lotus is up and running.

2. Orange, clearcoat is pealing, engine was running before i removed carburetors to temporarily put on black one. $1500.
2.0 liter Lotus 907 4 valve engine. 160HP. 5 speed trans. A/C, power steering.
California lean sale paperwork.
Pictures are of it’s engine compartment.

3. Orange. faded paint, Sprint edition, steel 13″ wheels, vinyl interior. Has had some bodywork done, needs a little more and paint
2.0 Liter Lotus 907 4 valve engine, 160 Horse Power. No a/c, no power steering.
Have rear side window, just needs to be reinstalled.
Was being driven, brake fluid leak on exhaust manifold started small contained fire.
Will need Brake master cylinder rebuilt, set of ignition wires, and some vacuum hoses.
Has not been driven or started in 8+ years.
$1400.

4. Elite parts car. Body paint ruff, interior worse. Make a “Lemons” race car out of it. No head, short block exposed condition, no transmission. $500 now $400 or make offer before i send to pnp.

I don’t have any more pictures at this time.

If you have questions please email them and I will answer them and add to CL info. I do not call people right off. You must email me questions first. Sorry too many CL flakes to call everyone.

I hate to sell them, but moving out of state and they got to go.

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